The inhabitants MESSINIA (Prefecture) PELOPONNISOS - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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The dirge in Mani

  The dirge in Mani is a kind of folk song and popular poetry which is not met anywhere else in Greece. The dirge of Inside Mani has an eight-syllable metre while the one of Outside Mani has a fifteen-syllable metre and are sung during funerals and masses. Men do not participate in the «clama» (=mourning , crying) as the dirge is called so that they won’t show their sensitivity while the women mourn the dead person hierarchically. When it is a man being mourned, the «clama» starts from the mother, then the sister, the daughter and finally ends at the wife.
  Being mourned by individuals outside the family is also an honour for the family of the dead person. In Mani, the women who sing dirges, and at the moment of singing, are in a psychological state of ecstacy and speak in verse using characterizations and comments on the dead person’s life and social activities. A good dirge singer is thought of very highly in the local community and everybody respects and admires her, while, when she is at a «clama», everyone hangs on her every word to listen to what she has to say. The people present learn and remember the best dirges, and sing those in various moments of their lives, creating the «tragoudomirologia» (=song-dirges), from which the saddest words have been removed.

This extract is cited March 2003 from the Messenia Prefecture Tourism Promotion Commission URL below.

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